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Tell me why: Goat’s milk butter July 22, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, recipes.
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8 comments

Silence Dogood here (again). After writing this morning’s post, “When life gives you curdled milk, make butter,” about an experience some friends and I just had making homemade butter, I began to wonder why I never saw any goat’s milk butter in stores. (Or anywhere else, for that matter. Even at the nearby Emmaus Farmers’ Market, where a family-owned organic goat dairy has a stand, they sell everything but butter.) I’ve had great experiences making homemade yogurt from goat’s milk—it’s rich and wonderful—and of course, we love chevre and other goat’s milk cheeses. Milk, cheese, yogurt… but no butter. Why? I had the feeling that goat’s milk butter would be delicious.

Curious, I had a little talk with my good friend Google and turned up all sorts of interesting tidbits. First, I found that Meyenberg goat’s milk butter is available in upscale stores for $7.99 per half-pound. (Guess that proves that no store around here qualifies as “upscale,” since nobody carries goat’s milk butter in our area. And alas, it also proved that even if it were available, we couldn’t afford it.) The butter was described by the lucky tasters as luscious and smooth, with a slight chevre tang, and they revealed that it didn’t harden in the fridge, making it perfect for spreading on a crusty baguette or the bread or cracker of your choice.

Mmmmm. Our friend Ben and I are ready to grab a baguette and some goat’s milk butter right now and serve it with a salad of ‘Brandywine’ tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil, topped with some kalamata olives, drizzled with green olive oil and Real Salt, and enjoyed with a glass of Cabernet or Shiraz. Ahhhh. So, okay, if it’s that good, why isn’t it readily available?

An article on the Mother Earth News site (www.motherearthnews.com) with the unlikely title of “Yes, you can make goat without a separator” (we’d rather not, thanks; we’ll leave that to Monsanto) provided some answers. First, it revealed that goat’s milk had very little cream, and that it was quite difficult to separate it out unless you had a hugely expensive separator.

But then the article went on to tell how the author had overcome these obstacles by skimming off a little cream from a gallon of chilled milk every day (starting with a new gallon of fresh milk each day) until, after five days, she had about a pint of cream. Then she whipped the cream in her mixer and rinsed it numerous times with ice water, pressed out all the water from the butter, compressed the butter into a butter mold, refrigerated the mold for 15 minutes, and turned the molded butter out to use as needed. (See the article for details.)

Of course, this article was published in 1978, and much about making butter from goat’s milk may have changed since then. But I’m intrigued nonetheless. Sadly, I’m sure that 5 gallons of goat’s milk would cost significantly more than $7.99, so I probably won’t be making goat’s milk butter anytime soon. But if you do, or if you’ve ever tasted it, please share your experience with us. I would love to know more!

             ‘Til next time,

                   Silence

The zen of goat herding. March 31, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading.
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1 comment so far

Hi all! I just had to add a second short post today after reading Jackie Clay’s post on her blog at Backwoods Home magazine. Jackie’s posted about her goat, Velvet, who delivered triplets last week. If you love goats, it’s a must-read (or rather, must-see: check out the pics of the adorable goat babies)!

You can click on the Backwoods Home link here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, then look for the link on their site to the “Ask Jackie Clay” blog. Don’t forget to read the comments section where Jackie talks about taking her goats for walks! Being our friend Ben, I of course think she should have a “Name Those Goats” contest. But she and son David probably want to do the honors themselves.

Anyway, it’s a fun read and I know you’ll enjoy it. And you’ll be in awe of how much Jackie knows about gardening and homesteading, and how generous she is about sharing that knowledge. (Can you tell, I’m a Jackie fan from way back?) And please feel free to share your own goat stories with our friend Ben!

Getting your goat. March 25, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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6 comments

Just this morning, our friend Ben finished reading The Year of the Goat, a new book by Margaret Hathaway that chronicles a yearlong journey across the U.S. (with occasional ventures abroad) in search of all things goat. Margaret and her then-fiance, now-husband Karl left their big-city lives to see if their real vocation was goat farming and goat cheese-making. After a year’s worth of colorful adventures, they found that the answer was yes.

Now, our friend Ben has always wanted a pair of milking goats. The hands-down best yogurt I ever had was made (by me) from goat milk, and then, of course, there is the cheese. It seems as if milking one goat (I would “freshen” them by turns so one would be producing milk while the other one rested up and kept the milking goat company) would not be too overwhelming, and how much space would they need?

More, most likely, than our friend Ben’s one-acre Eden, Hawk’s Haven, could provide, bisected as it is by Hawk Run and with the greenhouse, Pullet Palace, studio, fruit trees, and veggie beds, as well as the cultivated wild meadow, already in place. Still, the fantasy refuses to die. Our friend Ben’s copy of Your Goats* is dogeared from numerous readings; any homesteading or farming magazine with a goat on the cover will instantly get our friend Ben’s goat—I mean, attention—and subsequent purchase. (Our friend Ben is probably the only person who goes to Tractor Supply to buy magazines, but really, where else can you find Mother Earth News, Back Home, Hobby Farms, Backyard Poultry, Taste of Home, Acres USA, and numerous other specialty garden- and homestead-related publications in one place? Including, of course, several goat specialty magazines.)

Perhaps it has something to do with our friend Ben having been born in the Chinese Year of the Goat, like Margaret Hathaway’s husband. (This is also translated as the Year of the Sheep; apparently separating the sheep from the goats is not a Chinese priority.) Our friend Ben was not initially enamored of the idea of being a goat, or especially a sheep, instead of, say, a tiger or dragon. But after reading that “the sheep is elegant and artistic,” our friend Ben became insufferable for quite some time and had to be frequently suppressed. And anyway, at least it wasn’t the Year of the Rat.

Our friend Ben still wants a pair of milking goats. Perhaps Nigerian Dwarfs would be a good choice? (If anyone out there is raising these diminutive but reputedly excellent milkers, please tell our friend Ben what it really takes.) And I highly recommend The Year of the Goat to anyone who’s ever longed to break away and follow their dream. Maybe it will inspire you to go for it!

* Your Goats is part of an excellent series from Storey Publishing. Ostensibly for kids (pardon the pun in this case), these books are excellent overviews of livestock care. I have pretty much every book on raising chickens known to man, and Your Chickens gets my one-Ben award as best overall chicken-raising guide. If you raise or want to raise animals and don’t know this series, or have dismissed it because it’s aimed at kids, you owe it to yourself to check it out.      

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